By Michael McMullan
SLEACHT Néill manager Paul Bradley received a boost last weekend with the return of county star Padraig Cassidy.
‘Tad’ came on for the last 23 minutes of the Emmet’s win over Claudy on Sunday and applied the pass for Cormac O’Doherty’s goal.
It was O’Doherty’s first taste of football action this season after getting games under his belt for the hurlers in the lead up to Sunday’s showdown with Kevin Lynch’s.
Having not featured for Sleacht Néill since last season’s county final, he saw a mere 121 minutes in Derry’s Ulster winning season, Cassidy had an operation on a groin injury and was back in full training in recent weeks.
His return will be a boost to the Emmet’s ahead of Saturday week’s quarter final with neighbours Swatragh.
Hurling manager Michael McShane has rated Brendan Rogers’ chances of playing on Sunday as “nothing more or less than” 50-50 after an operation to tidy up a wrist injury.
Meehaul McGrath is back in full training, but wing-back Keelan Feeney hasn’t featured since their win over Newbridge in the final group game.
Swatragh have Patrick Kearney back after a long-term suspension and Anton Tohill has more football under his belt.
There is a worry over Oisin McWilliams and goalkeeper Sean McNicholl, both of whom have missed the last two games, while Cahal Murray has been out since their hurling defeat to Kevin Lynch’s.
Conor McAtamney failed a fitness test on a hamstring injury, but made a brief appearance in stoppage time.
The tie of the quarter-final is the clash of holders Glen and Magherafelt in a repeat of the 2019 final when Rossa held off a late challenge to take the title.
Magherafelt were given a scare by Kilrea in the last round. The Pearses missed a handful of chances in the third goal before Danny Heavron made the clinching goal for substitute Niall Higgins.
An injury to veteran defender Joe Keenan could force a reshuffle. Keenan was operating as sweeper under Damian Barton and Brian McGuckin’s watch, so All-Ireland minor winner Eoin McEvoy could be in line for a full debut alongside his older brother Michael in defence.
Glen will again be without Ciaran McFaul, but they’ll hope to have Emmett Bradley and Cathal Mulholland closer to full fitness. Both were unused subs in their win over Ballinascreen, a sluggish performance before goals from Alex and Ethan Doherty put the result out of sight.